East Dulwich Tavern, East Dulwich

Please note that due to Copyright Trolls, all images have been removed until I can manually review them, one by one, and ensure credit is appropriately displayed. So if the story suddenly makes no sense, then...well...soz.

This is a long process, so please bear with me...it will likely take until the end of 2024 until all images are reviewed and displayed correctly. Sigh.

Please note that this review is from November 13, 2018 and may be out of date...restaurants sometimes get better, get worse, employ a new chef or end up with new management.

Welcome to the latest episode of what shite can I write to make a roast dinner sound interesting. Though I definitely have something to say about the food this week.

Maybe I’ll just crack on with what I’m supposed to be doing – reviewing the roast dinner at the East Dulwich Tavern – a random number generator choice, and one that I was quite hopeful for – I’d had a good feel about the place having seen their Twitter output. And you know, you definitely should judge people by what they put on Twitter.

Arriving at the East Dulwich Tavern, I found a slightly tired-looking shabby-chic (with minimal chic) boozer straddling the conjunction of two not-quite-perpendicular roads on a roundabout. I’d been to East Dulwich a couple of times previously, and always felt comfortable with its vague attempts at village poshness despite being slap-bang in south London.

Back in January I had brunch at a place called Spinach, a delightfully charming looking venue with an overpriced and very average brunch – but amazing carrot cake. I’ve drank at The Bishop too, just a short walk away, and eaten somewhere else down the road but really cannot remember. Not had a roast dinner in the area until now though.

It wasn’t immediately clear whether I should wait at the bar to be shown to my reserved table, or whether someone was in charge of service. So I queued at the bar. For quite some time, approaching a level of impatience as at least a few people were served before me despite arriving after.

I advised that I had booked a table, the barmaid went and spoke to someone – I hoped about my table, and I followed this someone, not knowing whether he was actually showing me to my table, or just randomly walking through the pub – hell he might not actually have been staff.

It was our table.

A “follow me please” or a “hey there” would have been nice, but maybe I’m expecting too much.

It wasn’t table service, so I headed back to the bar to order a beer. An inauspicious start service-wise, but at least there was a healthy choice of beer – too much in fact. Had I been a cider drinker, I would have been tempted by the rhubarb cider – in the end, feeling not too adventurous (it was a Sunday) I plumped for the Peckham Pilsner – which was surprisingly flavoursome for a Pilsner, and reasonably-priced at £5.20. Anything under £6 is reasonable nowadays – especially with people like Metro Garden in Clapham charging £6.50 for a bottle. Fuckers.

The pub itself definitely needed a little upkeep in places. It was quite dark and moody – yet almost every table was taken, mostly full of youngish middleish-class types. We only had those small 1980’s pub stools around our table – though infinitely more comfortable than many of the office chairs where I work…ah the joys of start-up culture, but at least we get a free croissant on a Monday morning. And announced – free weekly pilates coming soon. The joy.

Either side of the bar was a seating area, we were seated to the left as you walk in, which at least had daylight – around the other side was lacking in light, with a fairly polite football-watching audience. It seemed like one of those places that couldn’t decide what it was, a food pub or a football pub, why the taxidermy on just one wall? Why the cheap crystal vases on a few shelves?

On the menu was lemon, thyme and rosemary chicken leg, grilled lamb neck fillets or roast sirloin of beef. I don’t think I’ve ever had lamb neck before in my life, so that was a straight-forward choice at the respectable sum of £14.00. My accomplice ordered the chicken at £12.00, and we shared a side of cauliflower cheese at £5.00.

Wait there. Not so fast. And not so easy.

We went to the bar to order our meals. And waited. And waited. There were not enough staff working for a busy pub, which I don’t blame the staff for, but what was inexcusable was how we were seemingly ignored. Stood at the bar with person after person being served before us – the nearest member of staff consistently serving the same patch next to us. Maybe 8-10 people had arrived at the bar after us and got served. Even when waving at the bar staff when they said “who’s next” – HELLO I’VE BEEN STOOD HERE FOR 10 MINUTES NOW WHILST YOU IGNORE US.

Eventually they took our food order, by which point I was rather riled despite the pleasant company. Why was I actively being ignored? Was I invisible? Maybe they thought I was black (I did once get punched at school for having the temerity to listen to “black people’s music”). Maybe I am Doctor Who. Or did they know who I was and wanted me to get so frustrated and go elsewhere?

I should probably end the rant here, but the staff really need to learn how to work a bar and how to recognise who has been waiting longest. Not only that, but all the tossers that were happily getting served before us – maybe they are regulars and know how bad the service is, but even then it is inexcusable if you are at a bar and know somebody is before you yet you don’t say, “oh they are before me” – which I ALWAYS do. It is good manners, like holding the door open for the person behind you. Just be decent human beings. Donald Trump would happily jump to the front of a queue at a bar. Donald Trump wouldn’t offer someone waiting longer than them to be served first. Donald Trump would selfishly take advantage of the crapness of bar staff. Don’t be like Donald Trump.

I feel like I want to continue this rant, but I have to accept that I have readers. I shall do the polite thing and move on. By the way, what is the different between a thong and a g-string?

It really wasn’t the best way to start a roast dinner review.

Dinner then took around 30-40 minutes to arrive though looked good upon arrival. I don’t mind a long wait as it tends to improve the chances that I’ll have a freshly cooked roast dinner, plus it gave me enough time to calm down from being ignored at the bar.

Alas, it soon became apparent that there was just a long queue at the microwave. Here goes…

Carrot batons were ordinary, faceless and tasteless.

The clump of cabbage strands were utterly forgettable.

A small gathering of parsnips was an improvement, however more could have been made of them – they required further roasting to truly bring out their flavour, and were somewhat anemic.

The price of the roast may have been low, however £5.00 for a small tray of totally uninteresting cauliflower cheese was a joke. There was barely a third of a cauliflower there, it was at least nicely cooked and there was some hint of cheese about the sauce – which was thick and creamy – and more sauce in the bowl than there was gravy. I think all the other negatives so far, especially the fucking wait at the bar, mean that I am perhaps overly negging on this – on a better day, this would have been acceptable if uninspiring.

We did get crispy roast potatoes yet again. However, they felt like they were last Sunday’s crispy roast potatoes. Were I a crackhead, my remaining teeth would have been unlikely to survive contact with these monstrosities, all very crispy on the outside – but a level of long-ago crispness that requires uncomfortable levels of strength to negotiate into mouthful-sized portions. Mine were soft enough on the inside – one of my accomplice’s spuds looked uncooked once she had finally managed to prise it open. At one point, these were possibly very good roast potatoes…I just don’t know how long ago that was.

This is a bit miserable, isn’t it? Want to see something cheerful?

Something to warm your heart?


Finally I think Donald Trump is telling the truth about something – there was no collusion with Russia. Just pure, homosexual love. Melts your heart, doesn’t it? Thinking about it, Stormy Daniels, who Trump definitely did not have sexual relations with, does look a tad masculine in a double-D kinda way.

Unexpectedly, the Yorkshire pudding was really good. A good size, a good structure though a slightly less eggy taste than I’d normally expect. Alas, a good Yorkshire pudding doesn’t make a good Sunday roast. Booyakasha.

When I arrived home, after researching whether I could make money selling pictures of my feet (inconclusive), I did a little research on neck fillet of lamb, and the BBC state, “lamb neck is a fabulously underrated and inexpensive cut of lamb. It is a tough cut that needs very long, slow cooking”.

It was definitely tough. Tough and chewy, and tasting of a grill plate that needs a thorough cleaning – it wasn’t without charm – away from all the negatives there was also a flavoursome piece of lamb. However, it was tough. It was chewy. And it tasted of grill – it took a few mints before I had rid my mouth of the after-effects. I guess that it didn’t get a “very long, slow cooking”. I’ll leave it for you to decide what this was like – I cannot decide if it was interestingly tasty or just abominable.

Do recall, however, that the BBC is biased, so lamb neck is probably supposed to be uncooked. Jezza.

My accomplice had the chicken, and she was happy with it – I thought it OK, but I could barely notice the alleged favour over the taste of the grillplate – if I squinted my eyes and squeezed my nipples, I could just about make out the lemon.

The gravy was inoffensive browned water with bits floating in it. To be fair, it looked like quite a bit of effort had gone into it – a bit more flavour and a lot more consistency then it could have been good. It was acceptable, no more. And my requested extra gravy arrived in a cappuccino cup. What on earth is this place?

Good news though – Bisto is being stockpiled for Brexit. Get those blue passports and 50p coins out in celebration…we’ll be OK for shit gravy granules come April.

You may have worked out that I was about as impressed with my dinner as I am with Brexit, and the more I thought about it, the worse I thought it was. Like Brexit. My accomplice said that Toby Carvery do a better roast dinner. I wouldn’t go that far – telling someone their roast dinner is worse than a Toby is as offensive as my Brexit friend saying “Farage is effectively the hair to Thatcher on policy.”, but seeing as my accomplice suggested in seriousness that we go to a Toby Carvery next time, I don’t think she holds it in quite as low a regard as I do. And yeah, I know it is heir, not hair. I am not concluding anything about the intelligence of the average Brexit voter from that. He doesn’t like facts either.

Only the Yorkshire pudding was good, much was indifferent – but the roast potatoes seemed to have been produced during a Nuclear war…not that we’ll have one now we have the love-puppies, Trump and Putin, ruling the world.

The menu stated “service not included” and the staff did their best to ensure that was accurate. We left no tip.

It’s a shame I didn’t have a good experience, it seems like a very popular community pub and it definitely has a good range of beer. Looking at Trip Advisor (I try not to read other reviews before I go out on duty), it seems that my experience is not unusual in both terms of service and food quality.

I’m scoring it a 5.05 out of 10. I don’t often have bad roast dinners in London – but this was a bad dinner, with bad service too. It was the worst I’ve had since The Beast From The East, a good 7-8 months ago.

Good beer selection though.

Next Sunday I’m going way off-piste, to somewhere barely in London.

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East Dulwich Tavern, East Dulwich

Station: East Dulwich

Tube Lines: National Rail

Fare Zone: Zone 2

Price: £14.00

Rating: 5.05

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Loved & Loathed

Loved: Erm, parsnips were OK? I over-rated this roast. Actually the Yorkshire pudding was very good.

Loathed: Poor service, roasties produced during a nuclear war, lamb tough and chewy, gravy was water with bits floating in it. Urgh.

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